Turning Cupcakes into Turkeys?!?!

Ella Markland is a long-time friend of and volunteer at TLC Food Pantry. More often than not, you can find her relentlessly helping those we serve load their food bags each month. However, when we shifted to a delivery service model in March of this year, Ella was not able to help as she normally would. After all, she doesn’t have her driver’s license yet!

Yet, Ella was not deterred. She came up with her own creative way to help serve her friends in need. Earlier this year, Ella hosted some Virtual Cupcake Decorating events. Anyone that knows Ella also knows how remarkable she is, so it was no surprise to us that she raised $400 during her August event. Big-hearted as she is, she donated her proceeds to TLC Food Pantry. (You can read more about Ella in this article on Patch.com)

Ella showing her skills during her October cupcake event.

Needless to say, we were blown away by Ella’s gesture. Our pantry is always looking for donations to help keep our shelves stocked, so that money could have gone towards buying goods for an upcoming monthly delivery or to supply needed paper goods. However, our pantry team was looking for an extra special way to use that $400.

In an October meeting, the pantry team decided to offer a turkey to each household – to serve as a ‘special’ Thanksgiving extra. Thus began our quest to obtain 60+ turkeys for the upcoming November service date. Hmmm, how can we pull this off…

[side note – our delivery number has increased from around 40 in March to well over 70 in November. The year 2020 continues to take a toll on many in our community and we continue to ask for your support in providing whatever donation you can].

Step 1: Where would we get that many turkeys in the first place??
Dave Asbert, Assistant Store Manager at our local Giant (116 Township Line Road), came through in a HUGE way. He and his team are a remarkable group of people who didn’t hesitate to come up with a plan to help. They were able to donate a significant number of turkeys to help support this cause. Dave, from the bottom of our hearts and from all the people you helped today – THANK YOU!!

Dave Asbert (far right) and the awesome Giant team

Step 2: OK, we know where the turkeys are coming from. Now, how to pay for the rest?
Next up – our own Ann Toth! Ann partnered with Thrivent Financial on a special Action Team to help support this project. She was even standing by her phone early this morning for some last minute trouble-shooting. Well done Ann!

Step 3: Time to make arrangements for all the deliveries.
All year long, our volunteer teams have been INCREDIBLE. Each month, they pack bags, receive donations, and make individual phone calls to everyone on our list to ask if they are in need of a delivery. (as noted earlier, this list continues to grow each month). At the same time, they also coordinate another group of volunteer drivers to complete the Saturday deliveries. Needless to say, it ends up being a LOT of time and effort each month and we owe so much to our volunteers and drivers alike.

Step 4: Picking up 60 Turkeys at Giant.
This morning, we cleared out the back of the truck, slid the seats up as far as they could go, and crossed our fingers that the day would run smoothly. Dave met us at Giant and could not have been more helpful. He and his team were both patient and kind getting us all sorted out. After all, ringing up 60 turkeys all at once doesn’t happen every day! Dave scanned everything in, adjusted for the donation and was patient while we worked through some gift cards and Thrivent funds to bring the balance down. Which brings us back to how this story started. After all else was accounted for, the remaining balance was $398 – spot on for Ella’s $400 gift!!

Now with the back of the truck sagging just a little lower than usual, we headed over to TLC to meet up with the rest of the team. It was a lovely fall day and the next 2 hours zipped by as we lined up 76 bags for delivery, provided drivers with their assigned routes, and loaded cars with food & frozen turkeys! Before we knew it, the sidewalk was empty again. The last thing to do is to find something special for that last $2;-)

So, how do you turn cupcakes into turkeys? As they saying goes, “it takes a village.” It starts with the kind heart of a middle school student, mixes in the dedication of local volunteers, asks for help from those able to give, and relies on all those in our community willing to share of themselves for the betterment of others.

We can all agree that 2020 has been a trying year (global pandemic, civil unrest & injustice, nationwide division, natural disasters, economic hardships….this list can go on and on). HOWEVER, there are silver linings to this year and there are positive stories when you take a moment to pause & reflect. We urge you to look around this Thanksgiving week to find some of those instances in your own life.

James 2:26 For just as the body without spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.